What we do, and what we want to achieve
Science and technology are vital to our society. They make the Netherlands innovative and have a great impact on our daily lives. The Rathenau Instituut studies developments in science and technology, interprets their potential impact on society and policy, and fosters dialogue and debate in support of decision-making on science and technology.

Target audience
The institute’s work is designed to support those who have to take decisions on science and technology, such as MPs, the government and policymakers, and also companies, academic institutions, civil-society organisations and members of the public. We focus mainly on technological developments that require new frames of reference, spark public controversy or about which no facts and figures are available.

The Rathenau Instituut contributes to political opinion-forming by informing stakeholders, either at their request or on its own initiative. It does so on the basis of scientific analysis of social and administrative issues, research into new technological developments and the associated opportunities and risks, and by analysing and presenting facts and figures on the innovation and science system in the Netherlands.

The Rathenau Instituut sets high standards for all its research and activities. These standards are enshrined in its quality plan, the research methods it employs and in the knowledge and skills of its staff. The Rathenau Instituut has a multidisciplinary team of academics and communication experts, which includes physicists, biologists, statisticians, social scientists, public administration experts and philosophers. Our aim is to present the clearest possible picture of politically and socially relevant developments and to inform the public debate as well as we can.

Our unique selling point
The Rathenau Instituut works in an independent, versatile, critical and timely way, with awareness of social and/or political impact. It links science, technology and society. By combining facts and figures, policy research and social debate, the Rathenau Instituut is able to bring developments to the attention of relevant decision-makers in good time.

Independent research
The Rathenau Instituut is independent as regards the substance of its work. It was established in 1986 by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, which also provides funding. In administrative terms, the institute falls under the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). It has it own board which since 2013 has been chaired by former President of the House of Representatives Gerdi Verbeet. The board defines the institute’s programme of work.

The Rathenau Instituut’s basic funding comes from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The institute also works for clients like the European Parliament, the European Commission and various other institutions. To guarantee its independence, the institute obtains no more than 25% of its budget from external clients.

Read more in our Work Programme